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Bret-Mar was recently recognized by Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), an international organization, and received a 2012 Environmental Improvement Award for The McIntyre Residence in Tinley Park.

The clients dreamed of having a private, peaceful garden space that could be used for relaxation and gatherings. The one requirement was that we incorporate two bronze sculptural pieces collected in their travels. Otherwise, the clients left us to have fun and be creative!


The design challenges presented with this project were an open backyard with a full sun exposure and no existing trees. Therefore, there was no privacy from neighbors and only an open fence which gave little separation between backyard lots. After the pool was removed a 26 foot diameter sand pit resided.  There was a drastic 3 foot grade change between the foundation of the house and pool base.  We had a choice, back fill the area with dirt or take advantage of what we had been provided with. Other elements we took into consideration were plant material that was not favored by rabbits and some wet areas along the property lines.

Balancing the needs and desires of the homeowner with the structural site conditions allowed for a thoughtful and creative design approach with utmost care and sensitivity to client and environment. The design method was to create the feeling of a sunken garden which was inspired by their travels to England. Retaining walls structurally transitioned the three foot drop and provided strong architectural lines to set the garden apart. This spatial definition provided a more comfortable feel for the client. The sunken garden, one of the many outdoor rooms, allows for customer to no longer feel as though they are on public display. Outcropping steps were chosen for primary access to the lower level garden rather than a formal staircase. Columnar trees were carefully placed around the southwest perimeter for a vertical plane to screen and add shade to the garden. Arborvitaes were strategically placed along the west property line to create a natural wall. A seat wall was incorporated for additional seating for larger groups. A low maintenance water feature was built into the garden for whimsy and serenity. The plant pallete was selected for seasonal color and texture, while also rabbit resistant. The selection of the floor material for the sunken garden was irregularly shaped flagstone with Irish Moss lending for an informal feel. The bronze sculptural pieces were placed in the landscape where they could be most enjoyed. The first was placed atop the sunken garden so it could be enjoyed from the concrete patio, viewed from inside the home, and the sunken garden. The other statue was placed in the sunken garden as an axis point from the primary staircase entrance.


PLANET’s Environmental Improvement Awards Program reflects the association’s commitment to creating and preserving the beauty of our landscape. The program is designed to reward independent landscape, lawn care, and interior plantscaping professionals who execute superior projects. PLANET strives to increase public awareness of environmental improvement through contracted landscaping, lawn care, and interior plantscaping and encourages the consistent use of quality materials and workmanship.

PLANET is the association of members who create and maintain the QUALITY OF LIFE in communities across America. With more than 3,500 member companies and affiliates, these firms and their employees represent more than 100,000 green industry professionals.

See a video of the project!